Kia ora Papanui Baptist,
It seems spring has come early, and for a couple of soft Aucklanders, this is good news! We can hardly complain though… For the first three weeks of August we boarded 11 different flights for a trip through the currently hot and humid Southeast Asia.
Our trip began with a week-long conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, where we joined 1,000 other leaders from 150 nations for the third Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering (YLG). The gathering was themed around The Great Story, looking at the acts of God in the world through Scripture: Creation, Fall, Redemption (first through Israel, and then ultimately through Christ), the Church, and New Creation. We had an amazing time connecting with leaders from all corners of the globe, hearing how God is using them in their contexts and sharing about our own. We’re happy to have made a number of new friends, many of whom we plan to keep in touch with for years to come.
Something that stood out to us was how the church of the ‘west’ (i.e. Europe, North America, Australasia) and the church of the ‘south’ (i.e. Africa, Asia, South America) came together with their different needs and could see solutions in one another. For the west, there’s a desire for mission: the church is in decline, and we’re not sure how to proclaim the gospel of Christ that people might come to faith. For the south, there’s a desire for discipleship: the church is growing rapidly, but currently there’s growth without depth. We have so much to learn from our brothers and sisters of the majority world; we also have plenty to offer in a mutual relationship. So what does it look like for Papanui Baptist and the people of God in NZ to be at this global table? How can we receive from the south with its growing church, and what do we have to share? These are questions we’re keen to be asking as Papanui Baptist Church.
The second half of our trip was spent with Adam and Colleen Hutchinson at their home in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It was great to have time with them and their three kids (Sophie, Sam, and Toby), sharing meals on their top floor balcony, exploring the city, and enjoying day-to-day life. Philip Sapsford joined us for the first few days, and we visited a World Vision area development programme in Koh Andaet, a neighbouring rural district currently struggling from a lack of rainfall. We also visited Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields, which were harsh reminders of the Khmer Rouge regime of 1975-79 that ravaged that nation. We Rices took a small break, flying up to Siem Reap for a night to visit the famous Angkor Wat.
Finally, we spent a day with Adam and Sirivuth (director of Prison Fellowship Cambodia), visiting their programmes in Kampong Speu, with a focus on Cambodia’s Children of Prisoners programme. It was impactful to see how PFC are partnering with local pastors to enable the work. Adam is the director of PFI’s Children of Prisoners programme worldwide, which we as a church have recently joined in support through Child Sponsorship. If you missed it, the Rices preached on this recently: <http://www.https://www.papbap.org.nz/multimedia-archive/standing-in-the-gap/>.
We’re keen to share more about our trip, and to discuss what it might mean for PBC going forward, so on Sunday 25th September we’ll have an evening of conversation at church. We’d love to share the journey!
Blessings Elliot and Sarah (Co Pastors)